Sunday, February 26, 2012

week in phone pics

Yesterday was the first Saturday we've had all together in about six weeks. It was gorgeous outside so we went for a hike, and stayed out on the trail for much longer than we're usually able to. Silas' ability to nap in the Ergo really helped with that.

Also this week, Silas figured out how a new scream/cry hybrid that we all love, and Nicky dressed up for cowboy day.

Happy Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

embrace the camera: thursday morning

Sleepy eyes and silly faces (I need to go to bed earlier)....

We eat oatmeal and tame our manes and take Nicky to school.

We hang around town for a few hours until it's time to help with centers in Nicky's class, and find a birthday present for my niece. Silas scarfs down a cinnamon pretzel.

 Silas is the cutest little distraction ever while the kids practice rolling dice and putting the numbers in order. They all stop what they are doing to pick up things he drops on the floor. He sits in the student-of-the-day chair proudly. Nicky's teacher says, "oh, he always does so good!" which is good because I was wondering if we did more distracting than helping. I will miss those kiddos next year. Nicky laughs at the joke in his lunch (what is a pirate's favorite subject? Arrrrrt). We head home and Silas takes a long nap. And that is Thursday morning.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

right now Silas is

  • 15 months old
  • saying a few words: mas (more), ball, this, and wuh-wuh everytime he hears a dog bark :)
  • pointing at body parts, like nose, belly, feet, hands
  • clapping and dancing
  • loving balloons, balls, music, grapes, strawberries, Goldfish and being outside
  • shaking his head no when he doesn't want to eat something
  • doing the classic "I threw it on the ground" routine
  • still using Penny as a pillow
  • roaming the house with Penny by his side, looking for mischief
  • giving kisses and waving hello/goodbye
  • still nursing here and there
  • playing the little game we caught in this video:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

learning a person

We sat up late a few nights ago after the kids were tucked away and talked about our teenage years. Ir was after a long day for both of us; me still in my scrubs and him leaning back into the chair and drinking a tall glass of cold water. He was deep into some old memories, and we shook our heads, and had our silences, and laughed a bit too. I joined in, re-examining some things that have gotten clearer over the years, and some things that haven't yet. I don't know how you turned out the way you did, I tell him, again. Some stories are familiar, and some are new, but we keep remembering to tell each other more. I'm starting to understand how you can spend a lifetime learning a person.

I'm so grateful for the man who sits across from me--for his softness with our children and his ability to push back against ideas, for how he makes me brave, for the understanding we've grown into over the years. One thing I never knew--people can be honest and real and loved all the more for it. I used to think love, in part, was about hiding. Protecting feelings, protecting from the ugliness in me. We've put so much out on the table, and I love him more than ever.

August 2005

Monday, February 20, 2012

on fear, parenting, and old wounds

A few nights ago Nicky casually mentioned to us that he hopes he doesn't go to hell.

My heart sank and I felt a bit like picking up the phone and yelling at whoever felt entitled to make this word a part of my five year old son's vocabulary. How dare you.

But we just looked at each other, and looked at Nicky, and started asking questions. What is hell? What is heaven? And he gave us his answers; bits of information gathered from here and there; his best making sense of it. And I felt relieved to hear that he doesn't really fear hell, not in the way that I fear he will.

As a child, I was pre-occupied with the supernatural in an unhealthy way, because I was exposed to things that truly terrified me. Books about demon possession. Casting out of demons at church. My movie and music intake was carefully restricted to the most innocent content out there, but I read, and saw things that were far more terrifying because I couldn't dismiss them as fairy tales and scary stories. I had a child's partial understanding and way too much information to process. I would pull blankets over my head even in the middle of summer, lulling myself into a feeling of safety so I could sleep. And being the highly sensitive and introverted child that I was, I didn't mention much of this to my parents. No amount of checking under the bed for monsters was going to help.

I've managed to leave this weird obsession (and some other childhood cripples) behind, but they will always be a part of my story. And now I see my son's story unfolding. I see God's love in  his heart in the most pure and beautiful ways, and I am terrified of what other people will tell him, and show him, about God. And also what I will tell him, and show him, about God.

We talked about how God is love, the one who invented love. A little bit about heaven and death. This is the age, I suppose, where you start tiptoe-ing around the hard subjects, carefully introducing and praying for wisdom with a new kind of desperation.

I do not know what to tell my son about hell. I don't know what I believe about it. What I do know is that in all my letting go of my crippling fears, my us and them mentality, my Christian outsider identity, my unacknowledged sense of superiority.....that I feel God's love in a more profound way than I ever did when I was younger and Knew It All.

I was that girl--the one who ran through her house, looking in rooms and under beds and outside because she woke up to a strangely quiet house and was terrified that she might have missed the Rapture. I've laughed with friends who had this same experience, but it's dark humor. God came for your parents, and your siblings, and left you behind. You are not good enough.

Does Jesus live in your heart? Did you sin since the last time you prayed? If you were in a car accident tonight, would you meet Jesus or Satan when you woke up? Heaven's gates or hell's flames? (Cue smoke and red lights, you know what I'm talking about.....)

What if?......I would ask my parents over and over, inventing different scenarios. What if this? Would I go to heaven then?

I stand watch over my son's heart. He is growing up in a different kind of Christian culture, thank God. But well-meaning people will still plant seeds of fear in his heart. We all fear losing control of our children's intake. In Christian circles, usually people talk about fearing exposure to sex and drugs and foul language. (I hope for my kids to have a healthy sexuality that's not peppered with guilt and shame, to not ever be enslaved to any substance, and to know the beauty of a well-timed cuss word but to have a whole vocabulary of other words to use as well, but that's not really what this post is about.)

What I fear more than anything is what he will need to un-learn. I will surely teach him things and later slap my forehead and wonder what I was thinking. Because culture changes and we do flow with it, whether we like to admit it or not. I keep thinking about this part though-how the Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In my own life, I have always been captivated by him. Most people are, in some way or another. It's the whole I'd be a Christian if it wasn't for the Christians thing. I was given so much good in my childhood, and I was given some confusion. Jesus has always been the constant, and so I know he will be for my children as well.

Knowing him, and his love, really is what keeps me trying. I've wanted to throw in the towel so many times, because of culture. But he remains in all his simplicity, preaching his revolutionary message over and over to the walking wounded. And in all my learning and un-learning, he has been there with me. He redeems whatever needs to be redeemed.

Help, help, help.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I love Sunday afternoons. I depend on them actually. Sunday afternoon comes around just in time, and maybe the baby is fussy but everyone is home and slowed. There are ideas from the morning to process, there is community, a big lunch, maybe a walk, a game around the table. The week ahead to plan for and the week behind to be grateful for. Rest doesn't look like it used to--it doesn't mean no interruptions. It's a deliberate state of mind, and on Sunday afternoons it's become a habit so now I just slip into it. I look around and smile because it's all so, so good.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

embrace the camera: post-nap

Here's a fun Thursday thing: embrace the camera! I discovered a fun new blog that makes me smile and inspires me to boot. Linking up :) I'm definitely one of those people who's much more comfortable behind the camera than if front of it, even though I've been known to whine that I'm not in many of our family pictures. So, at least once a week I'm going to be in a picture. I'm going to have to figure out how to distract certain children a bit more though. Most of these were super blurry because Silas was running to attack the camera and I was attempting to keep him in the shot with hey I'm clapping! hey look at the book! This was after a nap and I must say I am enjoying his much better moods lately after all the sickness last week.

Anyway. It was work, but camera has been embraced. Happy Thursday!

i needed this.

I stand in front of the wood block board, hulling strawberries and listening to the sounds of five thirty pm. Silas climbs in and out of cabinets, spreading plastic bowls and trays on the floor, dumps out a box of plastic forks. Nicky's playing Monkey Moves, dancing around the living room. I'm enjoying the chance to cook a meal slowly, brushing butter and rosemary onto salmon, drizzling maple syrup over squash. Silas buries his face in my legs and lingers while I pat his back, then takes off again, legs lifting side to side, laughing at brother. He'll be back in two minutes to repeat the process. This is all day, this little dance we do, and some days I sigh at it but today I reveled. Papa comes home; now we're all here.

Today there is no rushing off anywhere, so we take our time eating around the table-Nicky prays thank you God for this food and for the Earth and for my parents and everybody says Amen! and Silas throws food on the floor and looks up at us for a response. Nicky tries asparagus and likes it. More and more adventurous with food, that boy. I remember when he survived on beige food only, when I was putting yellow squash in his quesadillas. Ricky runs the bath while I load the dishwasher and I hear him playing blues to them while they splash and pour. I join them, stretch out on the carpet, then slather lotion and zip up footie pajamas, laugh at Silas, lean my head on Ricky's shoulder. This.

I read out loud from Little House in the Big Woods, stopping every few sentences to explain things like kerosene lamps and lead bullet-making and panthers. Then he cleans teeth and we all say our good-nights and he says I love you to the moon and back and to the moon and back and to the moon and back. That's further than heaven, he tells me, so satisfied and safe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Part I: heart-shaped pancakes are consumed, 

photo session is attempted,

 Silas just wants to play outside, but is somewhat appeased by hanging out next to the door.

Part II: I get ding-dong-ditch roses and a balloon from my sneaky husband. It makes me smile big (he has a long history of sneaky flower delivering). Silas and I eat too much candy. He naps and I clean bathrooms.

Part III: we pick up Nicky from school, and dump out his valentines on the table (I love this part the best).

Part IV: Our awesome sitter comes over and Ricky and I head out on our hot date. We hear from a panel of foster and adoptive parents and it's encouraging and real. I realize there's no one way to be good at this-they all bring different strengths to the table but talk about their families with the same kind of zeal and assurance. I feel so grateful and grounded in all of this. And I love my guy so much for being willing to take on this challenge with me in the midst of everything else he has going on. 

Hopefully soon we'll have a fun date where we get to go be kids for a few hours, but this grown up stuff, with responsibilities and whatnot, is not terrible. It's real and not invented by a card company and I love it (even if a lot of how we celebrated was invented by a card company). As long as love is really behind it all, it's good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

this week (a little late)

So this week....

  • Nicky had 101 Dalmation Day at school, and cuteness ensued
  • then he fell asleep for two hours after school
  • Silas got sick, and stayed sick
  • then Nicky got sick, and slept a lot more
  • then I got sick, at this point all of us seemed to have the same virus
  • then Ricky got sick with food poisoning. I guess he felt a little left out.
  • I took a nap. In the daytime.
  • we watched a lot of the show Parenthood. It's really good.
  • we finished all but the last foster/adopt session
  • Nicky signed his Valentines. No crafty Pinterest-worthy valentines for us this year, but I think he's happier with the transformers ones anyway. I'm kind of sad we didn't do this one though.
I'm so ready for a productive day or two. And well-rested.
Happy Valentine's Day :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

a few sick-day thoughts

  • This week I've experienced that wonderful phenomenon that happens when a non-cuddly baby gets sick. Silas has been snuggling up with me almost constantly, which is of course wonderful and also sad. He is usually way too busy for this kind of stuff. No fever- just cough, runny nose, one day of throwing up, eating very little but still drinking lots of fluids and going to the bathroom this morning I noticed him pulling on his ear and it's a relief to have something to potentially treat. Yesterday, whatever he has slayed me as well. I woke up with some serious body aches, dizziness, fatigue, queasiness and a sore throat. This is a weird bug, whatever it is. I had to keep Nicky home from school because there was no way I could drive. I think he needed the rest anyway; he's taken a two hour nap after school twice this week. Silas and I spent the whole morning sleeping. I taught Nicky how to play chinese checkers in the afternoon, when I could handle being vertical. So yeah, thank God Ricky feels well. He took Nicky to school today and is trying to get Silas in to see his doc. I feel better but still bad enough to call in today. I've got tea to drink and blogs to read; so grateful for some rest time.
  • We have two classes to go for our foster/adoption training. All day tomorrow, and Tuesday night (our hot Valentine's date). Actually it is a pretty romantic thing, starting a new adventure together. We've been learning a lot; most of it is difficult to take but important to know. I would absolutely be lying if I said I wasn't scared. I am. These classes are making me realize I have some issues to work through in order to be a good foster parent (like the judgment I will most likely feel toward birth parents who have done harm to their kids, and the likelihood that I will want to keep all of them but have to send them back home).  I really, really want to adopt quickly, but Ricky and I have also talked about how cool it would be to be instrumental in re-uniting families, and forging lasting relationships with parents who just need some resources. This is going to be a process, and I'm still very much excited for it, but I'm understanding some harsh realities a little better. Resisting the urge to cover my ears and just pretend everything will be fine and easy.

  • Ricky took this yesterday-Nicky and his "dog sister", as he calls her. They are so funny. The other day they were playing outside and I heard Nicky declare, "Penny, I'm going to tell on you." Which he did, and she just stood there looking up at me with those pathetic Basset Hound eyes. She is really good at pretending to be oblivious. Nicky told me he always loves Penny, even when she's in trouble. I told him I love her too, I just get mad when she chews up yet another toy/roots through the trash/insert bad doggie behavior here. I do appreciate her constant willingness to be a pillow though. She really is the perfect dog for kiddos.
  • Silas dunked a wireless mouse into a big glass of orange juice this morning. I took it apart and dried it, and what do you know, it still works.
  • Wednesday night our church had a Compassion banquet and laid out a plan for helping people in extreme poverty. I'm so impressed and proud of the work that's being done, and excited to be a part of it. There's a link on the sidebar above to the 58: Initiative, part of the inspiration behind all this.
  • Thursday is usually my day to wash and fold laundry all day long, because I would rather do that than do a load every day. So I'm thinking I may find a movie and get cracking on that. I hope your (and our) weekend contains some loveliness, some chocolate, and not this yucky bug.

Monday, February 6, 2012

the only requirement is thirst

Over the past few weeks I've been listening to a series of podcasts in the morning, on my way home from Nicky's school. Mars Hill, a church in Michigan puts them up on their website. Silas often falls asleep on the way home, allowing me to sit and finish listening. They have really been ministering to me and re-inforcing my conviction that God gives us the words we need, exactly when we need them. This morning's talk, given by Shane Hipps, was about the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian from Acts chapter 8. I heard this story many times growing up, and always liked it. Basically Phillip, one of Jesus' disciples, is traveling and meets and Ethiopian man reading a scroll in his chariot. They talk, and the Ethiopian man tells Phillip he doesn't understand what he's reading (turns out it was the book of Isaiah). Phillip explains the text in a fresh way in light of Jesus coming and fulfilling Messianic prophecy, and the Ethiopian is baptized as a follower of Christ in some nearby water and goes on his way. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ethiopia (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants make up 62% of Ethiopia's population today). A very interesting tidbit in this story is that this man was a eunuch; castrated in order to be in service to the Queen (this reduced his "threat level").

So of course the Bible mentions eunuchs here and there; it's not a new concept. But-I didn't really ever think about how the drastic lack of testosterone would effect their features. Not only did they take on more feminine characteristics, they often dressed like women as well. They were, in several cultures, seen as a kind of third gender (there is nothing new under the sun). They didn't fit with the men, and they didn't fit with the women. People didn't know what "category" to file them under.

It occurs to me lately that the New Testament church was all about breaking social norms. Look at Jesus-he spoke to women in public (a big no-no for Jewish men of the day, who were fond of a prayer in which they thanked God for not making them women)-and not only that he kept company with people of ill repute. I love to picture him, homespun garment, feet dusty from the day's work and travel, sitting around a fire eating fish and drinking wine, laughing with the common folk, being human. Only ever harsh with the legalistic rule-followers.  He asked people to consider their own shortcomings before taking on those of others (the lumber yard in our own eyes, as I heard it described once, and not the speck in someone else's). When did he ever encourage his followers to take steps back, to not push the limits, to not accept?

Christianity, in its early days, seemed to be all about breaking with tradition. But wow, look where we have taken it. This is what humans do.

People like limits. And we like to attribute of love of limits to God's love of limits. We're still plenty misogynistic; we still think in terms of us and them. But-if Jesus is the best example of God's heart that we have, maybe we need to re-think things a bit.

Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

I'm writing this because I feel challenged. I feel uncomfortable sometimes about people I can't place neatly in categories too. I like boundaries and clear answers and checked boxes.


In the grander trajectory of Christianity, what is the movement? Where have we been and where are we headed? Seriously, we used to burn people for heresy. Now, what would have been called speaking heresy is simply called conversation (well in my circles anyway). It's working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. We are seeking more understanding now, looking at the issues of the heart.

God's love, and his plans, are like the ocean and we can be like dams, stopping up all that power and life-giving force and saying who gets it and who doesn't. There is a Pharisee in all of our hearts, shaking his/her little fist, wanting to be the favorite.

God used someone on the margins, someone unacceptable, to bring Christianity to an entire country. Who might he be using today, whether or not we approve of it?

Just some food for thought (steps off soap box). You can hear the whole message here.

*The title of this post comes from Shane's prayer at the end of the message

Sunday, February 5, 2012

(mini) week in phone pics

This week was quite full of activity and I hardly took any pictures. Only these three: Silas sharing his milk bottle with Penny, and proof of my children consuming spinach. And yes, instead of stopping him I took a picture. 

I'm a little late to the green smoothie party I know, but they were such a hit. I threw some strawberries, banana, ice, plain yogurt, honey, and raw spinach in the blender. I've seen recipes with kale as well. I'm thinking they'll be a regular after-school snack around here.

Excited for a slightly less full week ahead. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


Over the course of this licensing process I've discovered a whole new level of tired: post homestudy tired. Yep. After answering lots of questions and really just being honest and hoping you convey that you're a fairly well-rounded person with a reasonable amount of childhood issues that you're not unreasonably hung up about, that you're a good parent, that you have a healthy marriage on all fronts (ahem), and your discipline practices are acceptable, and you have enough self-esteem, and your home is safe for small children, and you are basically at peace with your life and self-aware but not self-centered, just basically that you're not a ridiculous person, are tired to your toenails.

It's kind of like one of those three hour talks with a close friend where you disclose all sorts of personal information, except there is absolutely no reciprocation, no mirroring, and the other person remains neutral and offers no opinion, approval or disapproval of anything you say. And then you start to feel just a wee bit scared.

I feel so unsettled. Am I weird? Am I normal? Do you like me? Yay, I'm thirteen again! Or three days post-partum. 

After the homestudy was over and I got Nicky from school, Ricky and I just laid on the floor while the kids played and threw various stuffed animals at us, willing ourselves to have energy so we could do things like eat dinner and bathe the littles and then slowly sink into a vegetative state.

We have been studied.

Let's hope I return to my only slightly paranoid self in the morning.
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